Managing Your Digital Images was presented by Quentin Leo at New Canaan’s Lapham Community Center on September 24, 2018




Why save your photo and other digital assets?
  • Our personal photos, papers, music and videos are important to us. They record the details of our lives and help define us. Find out more:

Library of Congress: Digital Collections
Smithsonian Institution: Digital Collections

Tip: Tell your story. Save and catalog your family photos. "Photography is the story I fail to put into words." — Destin Sparks

What: More than photo prints, save negatives, slides, audio clips, video, books, documents, scrapbooks, albums and 3D objects.
  • Identify what you want to save
  • Decide what is most important to you
  • Organize the content
  • Save copies in different places

Tip: Go Big, have fun.


My grandfather took this picture of my kid sister in 1958. One snapshot. One print. I found it.

Where to store your digital collection?
  • Hard disks
  • Flash drives
  • Prints
  • Cloud storage

Tip: Remember floppy disks, CDs, DVDs? Digital storage obsolescence is an ongoing thing. Upgrade your digital storage and "future proof" your precious memories.

Plan for long-term storage. Archival storage.
  • Who will manage the online storage account in the future? Choose a trusted family member, friend, or third-party.
  • Choose an online storage provider wisely.
  • Are AOL, Yahoo, Facebook worthy stewards of your digital story?

Tip: File your photos online with a trusted cloud storage provider.

Handling: Originals and working copies
  • Don’t edit the original. Make a copy, edit the copy, file it, rename it, tag it many times, add it to one or more albums as you wish.
  • Apple Photos, Google Photos and other applications preserve edits and settings that can be reused on other images or removed enabling a photo to revert to its original state.

Scanned slides, prints, objects
  • Save a reference copy
  • Your edits may inadvertently crop out parts of the scanned image that later could become important
  • Original image may have markings, notations, even damage that may turn out to provide meaningful context for the story of the image.

Tip: Keep original containers, notations, and other clues about the picture to preserve image "context". If original containers cannot be kept, scan them or simply snap a picture and include it among the related image files.

Context: Preserve original date, notations, container, carton, sleeves. The 5Ws; Who, What, When, Where, Why. A photo without context is better than no photo at all. But, a photo including context can be an heirloom with provenance.
Who are the people pictured?
What is the object, occasion depicted?
Where is the scene located?
When was the picture taken?
Why is the picture special?


Why is this picture special? It was taken in 1948 by a local news photographer minutes after my father pulled out of a near nose-in crash of the experimental airplane he was testing. Knowing the context of this photograph helps a viewer appreciate the ground crewman's relieved smile amid the grave expressions of onlookers.


Who are these people? Where is this scene? Thanks to my aunt we know.


Tip: Every picture tells a story. A picture with annotations tells a more complete story.

Metadata: What is metadata?
  • Image capture date, time, time zone and/or UTC
  • Location, latitude and longitude coordinates, elevation
  • Camera model, type, exposure settings, lens focal length, color specifications
  • Serialized image title
  • Photographer
  • Copyright
  • User entered text description, comments
  • Tags, keywords for search

The format of .jpg files created with digital cameras contain many more metadata fields than .jpg images created with a scanner.

Folders or Tags


Folders: Use folders sparingly to segregate specific files or to group large numbers of files that are related. For example, photos for a particular year or decade. Over-use of folders can make it more difficult to find files, result in loss of files, unwanted duplicates, versioning confusion and other complications.

Tags: Make digital files easier to find on any type of storage using tags.
  • One file can have many tags
  • One folder can contain many files.

Tip: Tag Favorite photos in Apple Photos and Google Photos for easy in-person sharing.

File names: Adopt a coherent and easy-to-use naming convention. Remember the 5 Ws.
  • Mac and Windows provide very capable file renaming and serializing utilities.

iCloud Photos or Google Photos

Apple, Drobox, Google, Microsoft and other tech giants are rapidly improving cloud storage with Artificial Intelligence (AI) to make photo management easier and retrieval faster and more accurate.

Link faces appearing in your pictures to people in your contacts app. Works best when your contacts are already entered in your macOS Contacts app and synced with your mobile iOS devices. Works much the same with iOS and Android devices syncing via Google.

Apple’s Photos app released with iOS 13 provides robust featurest included in the desktop version of Photos app for macOS. Try iMovie app for macOS and iOS too.
  • Photos app on iOS and macOS syncs your collection and new photos you’ll take today and tomorrow seamlessly with your other Apple devices via Apple's iCloud service.
  • Windows PC users can install the free iCloud for Windows utility and sync Browser bookmarks, Contacts, Calendars, Documents, Photos and other data with iOS and iPadOS mobile devices.

Google Photos for Android, ChromeOS, iOS, iPadOS, macOS, Windows, Linux and most any internet-connected device equipped with a modern web browser.
  • Google Backup and Sync app
  • Free Photos storage
  • Image editing tools
  • Albums and photos sharing
  • YouTube video editing and sharing service

Archive and Working volumes
  • Separate archive for originals
  • Working volume for editing, sharing

Backup: Cloud and Local storage

© Quentin Leo
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